ROME, April 16, 2014 ( – An Italian woman is carrying the twin children of another couple after workers at a fertility clinic implanted her with the wrong embryos.

The mix-up happened four months ago at the Sandro Pertini Hospital in Rome, on a day when four couples were receiving in vitro fertilization (IVF). Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin has launched an investigation into the matter, both to figure out whether any of the other couples and their babies were affected by the mix-up and to determine how it happened.

Lorenzin said she was especially bothered by the fact that the government only learned of the mishap through press reports.  She said the investigation would try to determine whether the hospital “respected all the legal procedures” with regard to handling of the unborn babies.


“The national standards on assisted fertilisation, which are based on European directives, are very rigorous, and if applied correctly, guarantee the traceability of all biological material used in the reproduction process,” she said.  She said geneticist Giuseppe Novelli will head the investigation.  All future IVF procedures at the hospital have been canceled pending the outcome.

This is far from the first time such a mix-up has occurred.  The mishaps are common enough that researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain have proposed tagging human embryos with microscopic barcode tattoos in order to better keep track of them.  


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